AUGUSTA–Speaker of the Maine House Mark Eves and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Anne Haskell called on Governor LePage to stop making excuses to deny and delay health care for tens of thousands of Mainers. LePage vetoed a widely popular bipartisan measure to expand health care through Medicaid last session.

 “Governor Paul LePage must stop making excuses to deny and delay health care to tens of thousands hard working Mainers, including nearly 3,000 veterans,” said Speaker Eves of North Berwick, who told the story of Navy Veteran Tom Ptacek of Portland, who will lose his health care coverage in January because Maine did not expand coverage.

 Starting January 1, 2014 nearly 25,000 Mainers, including parents and veterans, will lose coverage and the state will lose out on more than $700,000 a day.

 “From pacemakers to stents, $700,000 per day could save hundreds of thousands of lives,” added Eves.

 Estimates show that Maine would receive $256 million per year from the federal government to fully cover more Maine people, according to the Maine Center for Economic Policy.

 “Governor LePage should join all the other Republican governors who have put aside partisanship and political games to expand health care for the people in their state,” said Assistant Democratic Leader Anne Haskell of Portland. “Instead, our governor has doubled down his “deny and delay” of expanding health care and he is spreading misinformation and fear, pitting Mainers against each other.”

 At least ten Republican governors have accepted federal dollars to expand health care including most recently, governors from Michigan and Pennsylvania.

 Haskell added, “The governor continues to vilify people who have no other choice but to turn to Medicaid or Medicare for their health care–many who are too ill to work a full day, or others who work hard, often at more than one job, but their employer doesn’t offer health insurance. Why does the governor think that he and the government can choose who deserves health care and who doesn’t?”

 Democrats will bring a new bill forward in January to accept the federal health care dollars to increase coverage for more Maine people.

 During the press conference, Eves said LePage has been “feeling the heat” from rejecting the widely popular measure.

 “Maine people agree that increasing access to programs like Medicaid and Medicare means more Maine families can afford to see a doctor when they are sick,” said Eves.

 Maine is projected to save $690 million to cover nearly 70,000 Maine people over the course of a decade, according to estimates from the nonpartisan Kaiser Foundation and the conservative Heritage Foundation. Maine is one of 10 states that will see Medicaid expenditures go down over 10 years.

 

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